Colorectal cancer’s modifiable risk factors and incidence rates across Canada

Learn how modifiable risk factors which contribute to colorectal cancer affect incidence rates across Canada and how the distribution of risk factors differs by jurisdiction

This 2018 article in Current Oncology discusses how colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most common cancer in Canada and the second leading cause of cancer death.

However, CRC’s burden can be made lessened through lifestyle changes and screening.

The article presents the following findings:

  • Risk factors include excess weight, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption, and low fruit and vegetable consumption.
  • A north–south and east–west gradient exists in Canada when examining the prevalence of CRC’s risk factors.
  • Those risk factors are found most often in the territories and Atlantic provinces.
  • The risk-factor pattern reflects the incidence rates of CRC across Canada.
  • Prevention efforts need to be increased, including promoting a healthier diet and lifestyle, especially in jurisdictions with higher rates of CRC.

Our findings further confirm that where people live influences their health behaviours, which can ultimately affect their risk of developing cancer.

The following approaches can be effective at reducing CRC’s burden:

  • Adopting public policies that create healthier environments in which people live, work, learn and play
  • Making healthy choices easier
  • Continuing to emphasize screening and early detection

Strategic approaches to modifiable risk factors and mechanisms for early cancer detection have the potential to translate into positive effects for population health and fewer Canadians developing and dying from cancer.

Read the full article The north–south and east–west gradient in colorectal cancer risk: a look at the distribution of modifiable risk factors and incidence across Canada.